Thursday, 30 August 2018

Competitive darts returns!

We have a draw for Hildesheim! And it features only four of the sixteen first round games not featuring an as yet unknown qualifier, so at this stage all I can do is post a fair few what if types of posts, project who I think will win each bit of the qualifier, do some stats and wait for it all to be done and then for the odds to appear. So let's see what we have, I'm writing as the qualifiers go on so if something reads odd, I've probably gone back and edited something as results have changed things:

Andy Boulton/Josh Payne (winner to face Cullen) - Boulton's actually in with a decent chance of qualifying for Dortmund, but every little bit would help - getting an UK qualifier isn't really ideal, especially one that's won a Pro Tour event this year, with Payne rating to win this one a little more than two times out of three, his overall point per turn being a couple better than Boulton being fairly significant. If Payne did get through to face Cullen, he'd be very live - being an underdog, but greater than 45% to get home, although whether he'd realise that if Cullen plays better in Europe as he has done overall is another question.

Ted Evetts/Mark Webster (Chisnall) - Evetts has shown a decent game in flashes, but of late it seems there's been more misses than hits, the same as can be said for Webster, who hasn't been in form since seemingly forever, and while he's not in any danger of dropping far enough to lose his card he'd certainly like to get a win on stage, and he's just short of a 2-1 favourite to do so. Chisnall should be far too strong for either, getting nearly 75% against Webster to win.

Lee Bryant/Kyle Anderson (Cross) - Anderson's been a bit hit and miss this year after a breakthrough in 2017, and he's currently outside of the Dortmund slots and under pressure to up his game for the Grand Prix, but this first round shouldn't be an issue, coming in at nearly 90% against the relative unknown Bryant, making his first appearance on the European Tour in over twelve months and nearly doubling his prize money this season just by qualifying for this. Cross would be a different proposition entirely, but Kyle'd still have about a one in three stab at it, and from then, who knows?

Darren Johnson/HNQ4 (Gurney) - Now we have to start projecting. It looks like they've seeded the top five Germans (would be four but Wright withdrew, oddly enough) to the last four of their section, which for this is Langendorf, with Horvat in the mix and some other unknown or bad players. Johnson would have made the worlds last year under the new format but has work to do - if he faced Langendorf it'd be 60/40, so no gimmie. Gurney should be far too strong in round two, at over 75% against Johnson and clearly more against any domestic qualifier (edit - some guy called Hänsch has taken both Langendorf and Horvat out 6-1 and 6-4 respectively and 6-0'ed someone else to make the final, I don't recognise any possible opponents, so Johnson should be fine?)

Darius Labanauskas/EQ5 (Price) - Darius is looking OK to make Dortmund if he can pick up some wins, and this isn't a bad draw, with the qualifiers featuring Lerchbacher and Dekker, which would be quite close matches, Jan at around 55% to win and Zoran an effective flip (edit - Zoran was knocked out by Mats Gies in the semi, so it'll probably be Dekker). Price should have enough if his injury's healed up, looking better than a 2-1 favourite against any of these names.

Richard North/EQ1 (Bunting) - North has been OK this year, just doing enough to hold on to the Matchplay spot, but now needs to push forward up the rankings. The best opponent he can face is Meulenkamp, who's got some work to do to try to overtake the likes of North for Dortmund, who's on the borderline with Meulenkamp a couple of grand back. The model has North as a tiny favourite, not even 53%, which is roughly the chance that Bunting would have against North, which surprises me a little.

Andrew Gilding/HNQ3 (Suljovic) - Gilding is in serious danger of losing his tour card so realy needs a win here, but would face soon to be seeded European Tour winner Max Hopp if he successfully navigates the qualifiers. That said, as the model hates Hopp, Gilding still comes in as a favourite against Hopp, albeit really small, not even 55%. Suljovic should be really quite comfortable against either player, but as the model also hates Suljovic it doesn't rate him to be anywhere near as big a favourite as he should be - 61% against Gilding.

Krzysztof Ratajski/EQ7 (Smith) - Ratajski's not having quite as spectacular a season as he did last year, but is doing OK for himself - but does need to do some work to make Dortmund, the worlds being safe due to the UK Open qualifier win. The qualifier he faces will be either van der Voort, Kist, van den Bergh or an unknown (edit - it's Vinny or Dimitri), Dimitri would be about a 56% favourite but Vincent would be a 38% dog. Smith would be nearly a 2-1 favourite against Ratajski, adapt the line as needed.

Justin Pipe/HNQ2 (Beaton) - This is the Schindler section, which would be a tough ask for the veteran Pipe in Martin's backyard, having less than one chance in three against the youngster. Beaton got the last seed after Wright withdrew, and if it was Schindler he'd be face it'd be quite a tight game on paper, Schindler being around 53% against him.

Dave Pallett/Michael Rasztovits (Whitlock) - Pallett will be looking to replicate his UK Open exploits, and would have been in line to face Kim Huybrechts, but he was dumped out by Rasztovits, who beat de Graaf in the final. Pallett is a tiny favourite against Rasztovits so it could be worth a punt on the qualifier here.. Whitlock should be a solid favourite against Pallett, projecting to win more than two out of three games.

James Wilson/Jermaine Wattimena (Clayton) - It looks pretty certain that it'll be Wattimena that Wilson plays, putting up a game of two players doing well enough to make the Matchplay through the Pro Tour, and Wilson would look to be favoured - a little bit over 60% to win the game. Clayton's had a couple of mediocre results on occasion and could be a vulnerable seed against either (unless Hannes Schnier goes berko and starts beating everyone) - the model can barely separate Wilson and Clayton. (edit - no, Schnier didn't go berko)

Adrian Lewis/EQ8 (King) - Lewis is back among the seeds real soon so a rare outing on Friday for the former twice world champion, who will not have an easy game as he'll face Jeffrey de Zwaan or Antonio Alcinas (on a board that also featured van de Pas, Perales and van Tergouw). If it is de Zwaan, it's instantly game of the night, and Jeffrey, such as how his game has moved forward, actually projects as a favourite, albeit only 51%. King's got to be worried whoever he plays, although he'd still be very live - 45% against Lewis.

Terry Jenkins/Ross Smith (White) - There is no curse any more, but an interesting matchup between one player at the twilight of his career and another, although he seems to have been around for a while, still isn't even 30. This is another game that rates to be very close - Smith's doing well enough that he comes out as a small favourite against the Bull, around 54%, and although regular readers will not be surprised to see the model churn out White as a routine favourite, you might be surprised to see him not even a 2-1 favourite, lining up at 65% against Smith. There's a lot of parity in these races to 11!

Robert Thornton/HNQ1 (Wade) - Thornton's struggling to maintain relevance, and has a lot of work to do to make Dortmund - he is likely to face either the seeded Marijanovic in an all Robert derby, where Thornton would be a 53% favourite, or world championship hero Eidams, where he'd be in the mid-sixties. Wade is a tough out, back amongst the seeds he projects to beat Thornton more than two times in every three so the Scot would have work to do.

Ricky Evans/EQ3 (Webster) - Rapid Ricky is in the news for being one of the players that twelve year old Leighton Bennett beat in a decent senior open over the summer, so will want to do a bit better this time, against either former Lakeside finalist Noppert, who eliminated Klaasen, or Ronny Huybrechts, who took out de Decker. Noppert should take this on form, but Evans would win this in a game that'd be about an 11/10 - 10/11 fair line. Darren Webster is the seeded player, and Evans is doing enough that he'd only be about a 6/5 dog. Could be close games all round.

EQ4/HNQ5 (van Gerwen) - A virtual final here and nobody knows what'll happen. In the European section we have horribly inconsistent players in Reyes and van Duijvenbode, while the home nation player should be Clemens, but the winner of Blum/Siepmann could be in the mix. If it's Clemens, as you'd think it would be, he's about a 6/5 favourite against Reyes, van Duijvenbode is about a percentage point better, while van Gerwen should take out Clemens nearly 80% of the time, so not a complete walkover - Clemens on home soil could be interesting, he has made a Pro Tour final after all.

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